Last updated on May 13th, 2019 at 02:37 pm
Wiscraft Inc. was formed in 1903 as a state agency employing people with severe vision loss.
In 1985, Wiscraft became the first state agency in Wisconsin to convert to a private entity. Today, 75 percent of the nonprofit company’s sales stem from several Milwaukee-area companies that contract with Wiscraft for specialized machine shop, assembly and packaging work.
The remaining work Wiscraft performs is for specialized parts for the federal government and military base supply stores.
Wiscraft covers its operating expenses by proceeds from its business efforts and partially from grants.
In 2001, Bill Piernot came on board as president and chief executive officer of Wiscraft after 23 years of manufacturing experience.
“It was something I felt I could do well and add to the company and help it maintain its missions,” Piernot said.
Since his arrival, Wiscraft has doubled its sales, maintained a 98-percent on time delivery record and expanded the company’s mission of serving its customers while providing employment for the blind.
Harley Davidson Inc., Rockwell Automation Inc., Briggs and Stratton Corp. and Joy Global Inc. are some of Wiscraft’s larger clients.
Wiscraft employs 38 people for assembly and packaging work, 28 of whom are legally blind.
“We find jobs that people can do, and we have a real good training program (to accomplish that task),” Piernot said. “For the most part, most of the folks who are here can do any job a sighted person can do.”
An ongoing training program, headed by a primary trainer who is blind, contributes to the current infrastructure of the company and maintains its consistency and quality.
“The key to doing anything well with a company is a good staff and good training programs,” Piernot said. “It’s been due to the efforts of the people here that have allowed us to accomplish these things.”
“It’s not about having sight or not having sight,” Piernot said. “If people set their minds to doing things, they can do it. For the most part that’s why we’re succeeding. “
Location: 5316 West State Street, Milwaukee
Year established: 1903
Number of employees: 38
Web site: wiscraft.com
Specialized machine shop, assembly and packaging work and computer accessory work for the federal government.